Native Americans, like the settlers, had their own respective culture in every tribe. Just as the Irish and German settlers brought differing cultures, so did the various native tribes throughout the nation. Much of our folklore has evolved through the centuries and it’s as difficult to retain the old knowledge as it is the old civility.
In the 1880s, several individuals sought the old legends of the Cherokee. The primary goal was simply to record and preserve what was considered “ancient” legends. Sources claim that even then, many of the old stories had vanished in lieu of modernized legends. These early legends originated with the Cherokee who inhabited eastern North Carolina.
The ancient Cherokee regarded the number “4” as having mystical significance. If they prayed to an animal, it had to be addressed from the four quarters of the compass.
If they prayed to the “old men,” they addressed them in the same way. According to the folklore, prayers to the four men served a variety of purposes. The Blue Man inhabited the north. The White Man inhabited the South. The Red Man inhabited the east and the Black Man in lived in the west.
If a Cherokee wanted to kill a rival, he bought or bartered for the formula from the tribe’s medicine man. If he had the required amount, the medicine man would do everything for him. If he didn’t want to use the assistance of the medicine man, he could turn towards the west and ask the Black Man to kill the rival or enemy. If he just wanted failure or defeat for the other party, he would ask the Blue Man in the north.
Happiness and power were obtained by prayer to the White Man in the south or the Red Man in the east. To get rid of sickness or disease, medicine men prayed to the Red Man, the Blue Man, the White Man and finally the Black Man. It was believed the spirits then carried the illness away and hid it within a western lake.
When water was prayed to, they referred to it as the “Long Man.” It received this name because it’s “head” was in the mountains while its “feet” were in the oceans. Fire was called the “Ancient White” because it is so old, because ashes are white, and the hottest fire burns white. Red embers were occasionally called the “Ancient Red.”
Thunder and lightening together was called the “Great Red Man.” The sun was the “Measurer” because it measured time. Corn was often referred to as the “Old Woman,” because it grew from the spilled blood of an old woman in ancient times.